I nearly choked on my French toast this morning while having a quick skim through online newspapers.
If you are a resident of Melbourne, you will not have been able to avoid some knowledge of the issue of cattle grazing in the high country of Victoria.
The select few who have licenses to graze their cattle on the high plains of Victoria in a national park, have run a masterful media campaign. Heritage is a word they have used so many times. Caring for the land is a phrase I have also heard often.
Now when our right wing thunderer newspaper published an editoral on the subject, I would have expected it to use those words, along with the 'politically correct Brack's government', possibly 'labour mates', slip 'unions' in there somewhere and perhaps 'hard working farmers'.
So what has gone wrong at the Herald Sun. Read the editorial on line at http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,15585954%255E24218,00.html
or here is the text below.
THE Man from Snowy River has had a good run.Grazing his cattle in the high country since the 1830s, mostly without payment, in recent times for a token $5.50 per head for up to 20 weeks, he has enjoyed a privileged position among rural Victorians.
He has had subsidised access to public land under a licensing system that all but banned newcomers from muscling in on his territory.
While $35,000 a year came in to government coffers from licences, up to $500,000 a year went out for the scheme's administration.
But money is not the big issue in the row that brought 500 mountain cattlemen to Melbourne, where they were joined by a handful of possibly well-meaning but ill-informed celebrities.
The real issue is our wild environment.
The Alpine National Park, with its herb fields and flowers, its moss beds and native grasses, its streams and bogs, is no place for hard-hoofed animals if it is to be nominated for World Heritage listing.
Up to 40,000 sheep shared the summer grazing with the cows many years ago, but they were moved to more appropriate locations when it became apparent they were damaging the biology of the mountains.
The time has come for the cows to follow suit.
The 61 remaining licence-holders, who send about 8000 cattle to the park for the summer, are to be given $100 per beast to adjust their businesses. Their supporters, who argue a noble bush tradition is being killed off by city slickers, need only scan the facts to realise the error of their ways.
The cattlemen are not to be booted out of the mountains – the national park will be out of bounds but the adjoining state forests will remain open for grazing. Huts and landmarks of the grazing era will be retained and cattlemen will be an important part of the national park's history.
Victoria riding highThere is no doubt the cattlemen care about the high country.
But even the best management strategies have failed to prevent damage to the alpine environment, which is slow to recover from grazing and in which some species of plants are under threat.
The State Government is not killing the Man from Snowy River, as the more hysterical of the protesters have insisted. It is acting in the best interests of all Victorians, from both bush and town, in moving his cows to less fragile pastures.
The Federal Government's cynical threat to frustrate Victoria's grazing ban is a victory for emotions over substance.